Latest Public Sector News

05.12.16

Large rise in social care costs over last year despite drop in quality

Research by a social care services directory has revealed a huge rise in the cost of adult social care, yet the number of services rated as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ has fallen.

TrustedCare found that the price of a week in a care home has risen by almost 25% over the last year, from an average of £557.86 a week to £686.32 a week, while the average cost of nursing homes rose by more than a third to £924.82. The cost of home visits also increased.

TrustedCare chief executive Mark Walford argued that the figures, based on data from providers registered in the directory along with calls by researchers to over 100 services, underlined the complexity of care services across the UK.

“The data shows once more that there is a complex mix of factors that affect the quality and cost of care, and that there isn’t a strong correlation between areas of affluence and local care quality as one might expect, despite a strong link to price of care,” he said.

“Instead, factors such as local employment markets, local authority commissioning rates and the level of cooperation between local NHS and social care teams are sure to play into the mix.”

The organisation’s researchers also looked at data from the Care Quality Commission (CQC), finding a 9 percentage point drop in the proportion of services ranked as either good or outstanding – from 88.9% in 2015 to 79.8% over the past year.

The data identified large variation between geographical regions, with Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Northamptonshire seeing about 90% of their services rated as good or outstanding by the CQC compared with less than 70% in Greater Manchester or West Yorkshire. Surprisingly, there was no firm correlation between price and the quality of services in an area.

Andrea Sutcliffe, the CQC’s chief inspector of adult social care, said: “Our state of care report published in October indicated that there is variability in care across the country, with over 70% of services rated as good or outstanding, which is an increase compared with 2015.

“However, we also raised our concerns that adult social care is approaching a tipping point with over a quarter of services rated as requires improvement and a further 2% as inadequate and many of these services struggling to improve.”

The CQC did not comment on TrustedCare’s figures, which it said did not tally with those found in its own report.

Adult social care is the subject of growing concern in the UK, with councils and health experts pleading with the government to provide more funding to the sector to relieve the pressures caused by budget cuts and an ageing population. Last week, the CMA announced that it would conduct a market review into the sector to ensure that service users are getting value for money.

(Image c. CQC press office)

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